Story of Degitiu Kassahun Age: 26

My Mum died when I was baby, so I was raised by my stepmother and father. My stepmother treated me like a maid. My father wanted to send me to school, but my stepmother refused. My brother agreed that I had to study, and stood up to my father and said that if I didn’t get to study we would leave. I was able to join school, but during grade 2 I got my first marriage proposal. My father wanted it to happen, but I didn’t want to get married. So I told my teachers, and the school wrote a letter to my father. They saved me, but I got 3 other proposals. When I refused to drop out of school, my stepmother would only feed me one time a day.

My brother and I ended up leaving home. We got a small hut.  I was able to continue my education, and I started selling ingredients to make a local drink, together with my brother, we sold this to support my education. But by grade 7 I started struggling, I failed and did the entire grade again but failed one more time. I also got sick and dropped out of school.

One day, I was collecting fire wood when a stranger came up to me and raped me.  I couldn’t report because I didn’t know who he was. And I got pregnant. I only found out by the time I was 4 month pregnant. I went to the hospital and asked for an abortion, but the doctors told me that it was a risk to my life to have an abortion. My brother told me to abort, and threatened me that he would leave me if I had a child. But I decided to keep the baby, because I was afraid of what the doctors said to me. My brother was very disappointed and left us.

The pregnancy was very complicated; I had to go to the hospital 3 times a day during the pregnancy. After giving birth I became a maid, and worked a lot to support my baby. After 2 years I reconciled with one of my brothers, so we continued making arake (local drink) to sell. It was during this time that I found about Siiqqee.

I found out about Siiqqee through a community facilitator. It was actually my stepmother who told the facilitator about my case, that I was a young woman with a baby, so I was selected to form part of the group. For the first training, we received per diems which I saved. With these funds, I opened up a bank account with 50 birr, and with the remaining funds I bought 2 chicken. I started selling the eggs, as well as using them to feed my child. My chicken then reproduced, so I had 4 chicken. I sold them for 650 birr, and deposited half in my account. With the rest, I bought 2 sheep.

I also learnt how to scale up my business, and started sharing my story. This allowed me to come out of my trauma. I learnt about saving time, as well as saving money.

When I got my second training from Siiqqee, I used the per diems for saving, and with 180 birr I bought clothes for my child and shoes for myself. I sold the 2 sheep for 2200 (had bought them for 1100), and I bought a calf. I left it at one of my brother’s house.

Saving has helped me maximise my business and profit. I live for my child, I don’t want him to go through what I went through. He’s almost 3 years old now.

God has given me health and I do a lot of things- I plan my time, food, clothes, etc, I’ve learnt how to plan my time properly and I am now able to provide advice and counselling to others.

In the future I hope to maximise my profit, to bring real life change and to open a cafeteria to sell food.

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